What’s your take on the outcome of the U.S. election and what it means for Canada with respect to energy and environment files?

VIEWS FROM OUR POLITICAL COMMENTATORS: NDP, CONSERVATIVE AND LIBERAL

BY KATHLEEN MONK

BY KATHLEEN MONK

Let me echo the sentiments many women, minorities and progressive partisans have expressed since the U.S. election and say that I am profoundly saddened Hillary Clinton will not become the fourty-fifth President of the United States. The outcome hit many people very hard, but it also did something else: it reinvigorated us to continue to fight for the policies we believe in, and to no longer take for granted the rights we cherish.

The impact of the U.S. election in Canada is difficult to predict, due in large part to the unpredictability of President Trump himself. Regarding the Canadian energy sector and environment policies, I think that the road ahead is uncertain. Trump has called the notion of man-made climate change a “hoax” and threatened to pull out of the Paris Agreement, so it would be reasonable to expect that his policy agenda will flow from that position – but his climate change rhetoric appears to have already shifted since the election. Recently, Trump told the New York Times he saw “some connectivity” between humans and climate change and he would “keep an open mind” about the Paris Agreement.

"The impact of the U.S. election on Canada is difficult to predict."

“The impact of the U.S. election on Canada is difficult to predict.”

Perhaps the first and most concrete evidence of the Trump administration’s approach to energy and the environment is his choice of Scott Pruitt to run the Environmental Protection Agency. Pruitt, a well-known skeptic of climate change, will be the point-man on dismantling President Obama’s signature climate policies – like the Clean Power Plan, which sought to close several coal-burning power plants to reduce carbon emissions from electricity production.

If you believe Donald Trump will be consistent and fulfill his campaign promises as President, then we’re likely to see a reviving of the coal industry and a loosening of oil and gas regulations, including opening federal lands to drilling.

But how will this affect Canada?

Experts like Bob Murray, an Adjunct professor with the University of Alberta, is unconvinced that a Trump presidency will bring great benefits to the Canadian energy sector. Throughout the campaign, Trump was supportive of the Keystone XL pipeline, but Murray cautions that Trump’s priority is to negotiate a better deal for the United States, which could potentially vanquish benefits to Canada’s industry.

Forward-looking, pro-resource development businesses and governments understand that a commitment to preserving the environment and minimizing emissions is critical to mitigating concern about development projects. President Barrack Obama, Premier Rachel Notely and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau have demonstrated an understanding of the need for policy agendas that seek to balance economic growth and prosperity with a commitment to address climate change.

The direction of President Trump remains unclear, but if the U.S. heads down a path of climate change denial and rejects international cooperation, it’s difficult to see how Canada will benefit.

"The direction of President Trump remains unclear."

“The direction of President Trump remains unclear.”

Kathleen Monk is a Principal at Earnscliffe, where she is trusted by Canadian leaders to navigate complex public strategy issues, design strategy and bring together diverse stakeholders to tell authentic stories that deliver results. She appears regularly on CBC The National’s preeminent political panel, The Insiders, and provides analysis for CBC News Network’s Power and Politics.


BY TIM POWERS

BY TIM POWERS

Yes it is true. It is not a bad dream. Donald Trump is the President of the United States of America. He officially became President on January 20, 2017. Hold on to your hats it could be an interesting ride.

If there were any broad lessons from the recent U.S. presidential election the first one would be don’t underestimate President Trump. If nothing else he proved to be a shrewd reader of the American mood of the moment. He is also a master manipulator of multiple media platforms.

When it comes to the environment and energy Trump is probably more likely to take traditional Republican positions. Simply meaning jobs, the creation and maintenance of them, will likely rate ahead of climate change. Also in a broader term Trump has mused about increasing the U.S.’ energy independence. Few details exist to shed light on what that actually means.

Here are some of the President’s other offerings to date on energy and the environment –

  • He voided Obama’s executive order and fast tracked the Keystone XL pipeline;
  • He gave the green light to the Dakota Access pipeline;
  • Lift restrictions on oil pumping in the Gulf of Mexico and the Artic;
  • Deregulate the fossil fuel industry, and
  • Undo Obama’s Clean Power Plan.

The appointment of Scott Pruitt as head of the Environmental Protection Agency gives us a sense of his leanings and inclinations on policy directions of interest to the industry.

As for the impact of Trump’s election on Canadian policy in this arena that is also probably a game of wait and see for now. Since Trump’s win the Trudeau government has reaffirmed its commitment to carbon pricing, announced the phase-out of coal production and conditionally approved two pipelines. So generally they have been as predicted – while some environmental organizations may disagree with that however that is where Canada stands now.

"As for the impact of Trump’s election on Canadian policy in this arena that is also probably a game of wait and see for now."

“As for the impact of Trump’s election on Canadian policy in this arena that is also probably a game of wait and see for now.”

It may be easier to throw jelly at a wall and hope it sticks – than figure out Donald J. Trump’s policy preferences and their immediate impact on Canada. We have got four years to try.

Tim Powers, is the Vice-Chairman of Summa Strategies Canada and the managing partner of Abacus Data, both headquarters are in Ottawa. Mr. Powers appears regularly on CBC’s Power and Politics program as well as on VOCM in his home province of Newfoundland and Labrador.


BY MICHAEL SUNG

BY MICHAEL SUNG

During his recent visit to Canada, Vice-President Joe Biden stated that the world is heading inevitably in the direction of reducing greenhouse gases, even if it isn’t a priority for President Donald Trump.  He further stated that no matter what the next U.S. government decides to do, there will continue to be endless advocates pushing for stronger action on climate change, and this momentum will not recline.

Indeed, there may not be the highly-anticipated striking shift if the Trump administration is unwilling to address climate change.  The discourse has been indoctrinated by industry and stakeholders all around the world, particularly North America.

Still, the Prime Minister faces an uphill battle.  Canada and the U.S. have been strong climate change allies in the past year; as Prime Minister Trudeau and Minister McKenna march towards their Paris Agreement targets, it’s clear that the Trump presidency will be an era of rollbacks: removing Clean Power Plan regulations, pulling out of the Paris Agreement, while, much to the chagrin of some environmentalists, expanding coal production.

As our largest trading partner, the United States plays a big part in our economic competitiveness.  Given the inherent integration in the economies of both Canada and the U.S. it would be much easier for Prime Minister Trudeau to mitigate climate change if the U.S. shares his vision.  To engage President Trump the Canadian government will need to somehow make an economic case to the President highlighting how the environment and the economy can share the same benefits, a carbon design that addresses competitiveness concerns.  Canada must improve its competitive footing to attract investment.

"Prime Minister Trudeau may find himself sequestered as he pushes forward with the carbon pricing framework."

“Prime Minister Trudeau may find himself sequestered as he pushes forward with the carbon pricing framework.”

At the same time, with the nomination of Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, as well as Rick Perry and Scott Pruitt to key posts in the incoming Trump administration, it will be difficult for Canada’s oil sector not to feel optimistic about the future.  If they are confirmed as levers of the Trump administration, Prime Minister Trudeau may find himself sequestered as he pushes forward with the carbon pricing framework.

All this to say, there is an air of inevitability to the energy policies of the President. Campaign rhetoric emanating from the President are not rigid, and he will adopt his views accordingly.  Just recently, Trump acknowledged in a meeting with the New York Times that there was “some connectivity” between human activity and climate change.  Perhaps Trump will not be able to reverse the global shift to renewable energy now under way, in this administration or next, but as a centrepiece of his election platform, renewables will certainly play a significant role in the roll-out of his administration.

Michael Sung is a Consultant at Crestview Strategy, a public affairs agency with offices in Toronto and Ottawa. Michael has worked on political campaigns at all levels of government and continues to be an active volunteer in his community.